16) Shooting a scene with more than one camera
One of the best ways to build more creativity into your video shoots, and save time reshooting scenes, is to bring more than one camera and shoot scenes from two perspectives simultaneously. I often use my Nikon 1 V2 as a second camera for this exact reason. Having dual perspectives can also make editing easier as the second perspective often makes cutting in and out of scenes, or shifting from close-ups to wider angle shots very simple to do.
17) Memory cards
To help ensure smooth video capture you’ll need to invest in the fastest cards recommended for your camera. For best results video requires the use of high performance cards and I only shoot with Lexar Professional and SanDisk cards. It may seem counter intuitive but I would avoid buying cards larger than 32GB. I typically use 16GB cards to shoot video. It’s much better to use multiple cards than run the risk of one, larger card failing and obliterating an entire day’s shooting with it. If you have a Nikon camera with dual memory card slots always set the second slot to act as an automatic back-up.
Shooting video will put a lot more strain on your camera batteries. Always go to a video shoot with at least a couple of fully charged back-up batteries, and bring your charger with you. As soon as you replace a battery, start charging the drained one. It can also be prudent to have a cigarette lighter adapter with you if you are doing a full day outdoor shoot as you may need to use your car to recharge batteries.
19) Camera Straps
It may sound like a small issue but I highly recommend using camera straps with quick connectors on them when shooting video, especially if you use a slider, skater dolly, or camera stabilizer. There will be numerous occasions where you will want to remove the strap completely, or undo one fastener and use the strap as a camera pull. Hybrid shoots (i.e. video and stills concurrently) will drive you crazy if you don’t have quick connect straps on your cameras. I use Tamrac N-45 quick release straps.
You will need some decent quality software to do your video assemblies. When you’re first starting out it will be extremely hard to justify spending big dollars on professional grade video editing software. Plus, you’ll be facing a huge learning curve. For the majority of fairly simple corporate or industrial types of productions you likely won’t need or use a lot of the capability built into the higher end software. To start off something like VideoStudio Pro X6 may be all you need. If you do need more capability then moving up to something like PowerDirector Ultimate Suite may make sense. Down the road you may end up using a top professional software product…but you don’t need to start there.
If you move into video you will likely have to upgrade your computer system with more and faster RAM, a LOT more storage space, a good video card, and a fast processor. I do not use my laptop to do any video production work – it is only an Intel i5 with 4GB of RAM and a 750GB standard hard-drive. It simply doesn’t have the power and speed I need. My current desktop system has 16GB of RAM, a fast video card, a top-end Intel i5 CPU and 5 hard-drives, i.e. 1 solid state drive that runs all of my programs, a pair of 3 TB hard-drives configured in RAID 1, plus a second pair of 4 TB hard-drives configured in RAID 1 (Note: a RAID 1 configuration creates an automatic back-up with each pair of hard-drives). My “techie” son built my new office computer for me so I’d need to ask him more about the exact specs of the components if anyone is interested.
22) Always work from a storyboard
You should never begin shooting a client video until you have an approved storyboard. This should contain the final, approved voice-over text, detailed information on any type supers and/or inset shots, and details of how each scene is to be shot. I always do an approximate time estimate on all voice over segments to ensure that the video footage planned for each segment will be more than enough to cover the voice overs. Failing to do this will often result in having to go back later and get more footage to fill a particular scene.
23) Leave trim room at the front and back of each video clip
Always leave a couple of extra seconds at the front and back of each video clip. It will make doing edits and assemblies with your software much easier.
24) Practice, practice, practice…
Before you accept your first client video assignment make sure you dedicate the hours needed to practice shooting video with your Nikon gear and using the other specialized video equipment needed to enhance the quality of your productions.
25) The final tip – clean your equipment before every video shoot!
I can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure all of your equipment is clean before each shoot. As a still image shooter it is easy to become a bit sloppy with gear cleanliness knowing that with a couple of clicks of your mouse in Photoshop you can get rid of the odd speck or two on your images. Those same specks can’t be removed on video and they could render your footage unusable.
26) So what’s a reasonable investment to make in equipment to enable you to shoot good quality video?
Assuming you already have a tripod that is weight-rated high enough for you to use for video here’s a quick summary of the equipment that I started out with and its current, approximate cost. All of the gear I bought initially, I still own and use (I do lots of research before buying new gear). This list is not a definitive recommendation in any way – it’s just an example of what one photographer did to expand into video work.
- Video head: Manfrotto 502HD ($190)
- Shot gun mic: Nikon ME-1 ($140) or Rode VideoMic Pro ($230)
- Cinevate 26” Atlas FLT ($580)
- iDC System Zero follow focus ($300-$500 depending on options)
- Sennheiser Freeport wireless lapel mic ($200-$250)
- PowerDirector Ultimate Suite ($200)
- VideoStudioPro X6 (I have version X5) ($100)
- Zacuto Z-FinderPro 3X viewfinder ($300)
- CMR Blackbird Camera Stabilizer Kit ($700)
- Konova Skater Dolly KSD-2000 ($100)
- Marumi variable neutral density filter ($150-$200)
- 2x 9 bulb CF light heads with air stands ($530)
In summary, as a professional photographer you are in a unique position with your clients to expand your service to include video. By understanding the strengths and limitations of your Nikon gear you can select the kinds of projects that are well-suited to your equipment, and that give you the greatest chance of success.
I was not compensated in any way to promote or mention any particular product in this article. As noted in the article, the majority of specific products mentioned I own and use in my business.
Copyright 2014 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved, no use or reproduction of any kind allowed without permission. Used with permission by Photography Life.
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